By Mayesvara Dasa
Give Thanks to Whom?
At the end of this month the people of America celebrate “Thanksgiving”. As the title implies, the whole purpose of this event is to stop and become consciously grateful for the things we have each been given particularly in the area of bountiful food. Traditionally it is God, the Supreme Lord who we thank to for the gifts of the wonderful harvest and the blessings of family, friends, and good health etc.
For those who acknowledge the personal concept of God Thanksgiving is actually a very appropriate and pious event. But there are an increasing number of people who feel that God is just an illusion created by weak minded people who need to believe that a benevolent deity is looking over them. In fact there is an emerging school of Neo-Advaita thinking that even suggests the concept of the self is also nothing more than an illusion created in the ever fickle mind of man.
“To embrace the self as an individual in the West, or a member of the group in the East, feel fulfilled and purposeful. This experience seems incredibly real but a wealth of recent scientific evidence reveals that this notion of the independent, coherent self is an illusion – it is not what it seems.” – “The Self Illusion” by Bruce Hood
There is absolutely no rational reason for Thanksgiving if one believes that the one doing the “Thanking” and the one who is apparently doing the “Giving” are cosmic illusions! For atheists the concept of Thanksgiving becomes absurd.
“The worst moment for an atheist is when he is feeling thankful but he has nobody to thank.” – Durante degli Alighieri (Italian: simpley called Dante; c. 1265–1321), was a major Italian poet of the Middle Ages.
These individuals would argue that the only ones to be thanked are the farmers, truckers, grocers’ and agricultural scientists (sans Monsanto) who made the food available to us at the local store!
“No philosophy, no religion, has ever brought so glad a message to the world as this good news of Atheism.” -Annie Wood Besant (1847-1933)
And yet… Thanksgiving continues to be the most highly traveled holiday on the calendar!
God the Person?
When Michaelango first painted “Creation: The Touch Of God” on the ceiling of the Sistina Chapel, in the early 1500’s it was immediately controversial. The high priests of that time were very upset about having a larger then life full frontal nudity portrait of Adam painted on the most prominent part of the ceiling.
“God created man in his own image. And man, being a gentleman, returned the favor.”
— Jean-Jacques Rousseau
But what was even more disturbing was that according to the Bible accepted by the priests as the “Word Of God”, it was recorded that God had specifically told Moses it was impossible for humans to see his face! (Ex 33:18-33) How then could Michelangelo have the audacity to splash a Technicolor rendition of what he though God must look like across the front of their new church!
Michelangelo convinced the priests to allow the paintings to stay by reasoning that God had also said he made man in his image and therefore if the Universe was very old, then God who created it must a very, very old man. It all seemed to make sense at that time but nobody would disagree that just because Michelangelo painted what he thought God looked like, his spectacular rendition of the Supreme Lord was still his own fanciful guess at what He looked like.
The in the Bhagavad Gita Krishna specifically warns us about the pitfalls of this type of faulty reasoning because it seems so reasonable and yet it is very misleading.
“I am never manifest to the foolish and unintelligent. For them I am covered by My internal potency, and therefore they do not know that I am unborn and infallible.” – Bg. 7.25
This type of independent speculation is the origin of a tremendous amount of serious misinformation about God and our relationship with him. Some of the most egregious examples of bad theology is the predominance of so called enlightened individuals who teach that we are God, and that we are directly creating our own good fortune.
“God is Within You! You yourself are the creator. If you find that place within you from which you brought this thing about, you will be able to live with it and affirm it, perhaps even enjoy it, as your life.” – Joseph Campbell
People who are a bit more mature in observing how the world works understand that not a blade of grass moves without the will of God. Therefore everything that is occurring is orchestrated by Him, not us, and that includes how much joy or suffering we will experience.
“One who has forsaken his material occupations to engage in the devotional service of the Lord may sometimes fall down while in an immature stage, yet there is no danger of his being unsuccessful. On the other hand, a non-devotee, though fully engaged in occupational duties, does not gain anything. Persons who are actually intelligent and philosophically inclined should endeavor only for that purposeful end which is not obtainable even by wandering from the topmost planet [Brahmaloka] down to the lowest planet [Pätäla]. As far as happiness derived from sense enjoyment is concerned, it can be obtained automatically in course of time, just as in course of time we obtain miseries even though we do not desire them.” – SB 1.5.17-18
This Thanksgiving come participate in the Pre-Thanksgiving Tofu Turkey Vegetarian feast sponsored by the American Vedic Association. At this event you will learn all about how our diet impacts our health, the environment, and our state of consciousness. You will learn more about our relationship to the Supreme Personality of Godhead Lord Sir Krishna as well as our relationship to all his other species. When our compassion extends to all of His other creature children, then our hearts become softened and our awareness of our place in the universe becomes clearer. The Supreme Lord is attracted to those who develop this appreciation for his entire creation and before long he reveals himself to us!
“One should cultivate such good qualities as nonviolence, truthfulness, cleanliness, compassion, and faith. Those who are free of doubts should constantly worship the Supreme Lord with all their hearts. When He is glorified, the Lord swiftly reveals Himself to His devotees and allows them to know Him as He is. Devotional service is the most precious possession of a person who honestly uses his mind, body, and words.” – Narada Bhakti Sutra Chapter 5. Attaining Perfection Text 78-81.
Come join us at this great event on Tuesday November 18, at 7:15 pm
I hope this meets you in good health and ongoing memories of The Supreme Personality of Godhead!
mayesvara dasa ACBSP